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Disabled Adult Child Benefits: How to Qualify for DAC

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
December 13, 2023  ·  3 min read
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Disabled Adult Child benefits provide financial support to adult children of individuals who receive Social Security benefits. If a person's disability onset occurred before the age of 22, they may qualify to receive Social Security benefits. The SSA calls these “child” benefits because they are paid on the parent’s earnings record.

Disabled Adult Child benefits, part of the SSA’s family benefits program, have strict eligibility requirements. Learn about the qualifications and benefits available for disabled adult children. 


Who qualifies for Disabled Adult Child benefits?

Individuals who are 18 or older with a disability onset before the age of 22 may be eligible for SSDI benefits on their parent’s record. The qualifications for Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits include:

  • Age: To qualify for DAC, individuals must be 18 or older. 
  • Dependent status: The disabled adult child must be unmarried and receiving benefits of a parent receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits. Adopted children, stepchildren, grandchildren, or step-grandchildren are also eligible.
  • Disability: Individuals must have a qualifying disability that began before age 22. The condition must meet the SSA’s definition of disability.
  • Earnings: Since DAC benefits are based on the parent’s record, the disabled adult child can receive benefits without a work history. If the DAC does work, they must not earn more than the monthly substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit, which is $1,550 or $2,590 if you are blind.
  • Parent’s eligibility: The parent or guardian must be receiving Social Security retirement benefits or disability benefits. If the parent or guardian is deceased but worked enough to qualify for Social Security benefits, the disabled adult child can receive benefits. 

How does the SSA evaluate disability for DAC benefits?

The Social Security Administration’s process for evaluating disabilities for Disabled Adult Child benefits is the same as Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. The applicant must meet the criteria for a condition in the SSA’s Blue Book — a comprehensive document featuring qualifying conditions. 

To “prove” their disability to the SSA, a DAC must provide clear medical evidence that they can’t work because of their condition. This might include medical records or a letter from a doctor. In some cases, the DAC may also need to undergo a consultative exam, where a doctor from the SSA provides a medical examination to gather further evidence.

The review process for minors

Minors receiving benefits based on a parent’s Social Security record may be eligible to maintain these benefits when they turn 18. At that time, the SSA will reevaluate the child’s disability using the disability rules for adults, and determine eligibility for all Social Security benefits programs

Similarly, for minors receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on their own record, the SSA will reassess the recipient’s disability status upon turning 18. The SSA will then determine whether the individual remains eligible for benefits.

DAC benefits vs. SSI benefits: What’s the difference?

Disabled adult child (DAC) benefits and Supplementary Security Income (SSI) are both disability programs with different eligibility requirements. DAC is for adults with a qualifying disability that began before the age of 22, and SSI is for disabled individuals with limited income and resources.

In some cases, an individual with a disability can be eligible for both SSI and DAC benefits and can receive both simultaneously. The DAC benefits, however, may offset the SSI payment amount. If receiving both, it is important to monitor your income and resources to maintain eligibility.

Ready to get benefits today?

How to apply for disabled adult child benefits

To apply for disabled adult benefits, you must fill out the Adult Disability Report (Form SSA-3368) and visit your local SSA office in person. Unlike other benefits programs, you cannot apply for disabled adult child benefits online. Next, the SSA will forward your paperwork to your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) to review your case. 

For the application, you will need:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your birth certificate
  • The Social Security number of the parent receiving Social Security benefits
  • The Adult Disability Report (SSA-3368-BK) 

The disability application process can be long. Generally, it takes three to six months for the SSA to decide on an initial application. If you receive a denial, you have 60 days to appeal the decision.


How much are DAC benefits?

The payment amount for disabled adult child benefits is based on the parent’s primary insurance amount or PIA. A disabled adult child can receive up to 50% of their parent’s benefit.

In addition to financial support, DAC can receive health insurance coverage, rehabilitation services, and job training from the Social Security Administration. DAC benefits continue as long as the DAC remains disabled.


5 Questions to assess DAC eligibility

Answering the following questions can help you get an idea of whether you have a strong DAC case. If your answer to these questions is “yes,” you’re more likely to qualify as a DAC:

  1. Are you making less than $1,550 per month?
  2. Does your parent receive either Social Security disability benefits or retirement benefits?
  3. If your parent is deceased, what was their work history? Were they eligible for SSDI at the time of death?
  4. Did your disability begin before the age of 22? In school, did you receive special education, have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), or work with a private tutor?
  5. Are you unmarried?

These questions help assess your overall case, including the severity of the disability and whether you meet the SSA’s other requirements. 


Can I work and get DAC benefits?

Yes, it is possible to work a job and still receive DAC benefits. The key is that your income must remain below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. In 2024, work is considered SGA if it earns you at least $1,550 per month, or $2,590 if you are blind.


What happens to my DAC benefits if I get married?

In most cases, DAC recipients lose benefits when they get married. There are a few rare exceptions to this rule. For example, if one DAC marries another DAC, they may be able to continue receiving benefits. The SSA makes these decisions on a case-by-case basis.


Get help with your application

If you are applying for disabled adult child benefits or benefits on behalf of a minor, you must be able to prove the disability meets the medical requirements for the SSA. This is where a lawyer can help. A good disability lawyer can help you gather medical records, complete paperwork, and build your case. 

Take our 2-minute disability quiz to see if you might qualify for benefits, and a member of our team will be in touch to learn more and offer advice. If you’d like, we can match you with a qualified disability attorney to help you navigate the application process.

Related resources:

How to Fill Out the Adult Disability Report (Form SSA-3368)

A hand drawn image of the lead disability lawyer.
By Jackie Jakab

How to Fill out the Social Security Work History Report (Form SSA-3369)

A hand drawn image of the lead disability lawyer.
By Jackie Jakab
October 3, 2022

FAQs about Disabled Adult Child benefits

Can I work and get DAC benefits?

Yes, it is possible to work a job and still receive DAC benefits. The key is that your income must remain below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. In 2024, work is considered SGA if it earns you at least $1,550 per month, or $2,590 if you are blind.

What happens to my DAC benefits if I get married?

In most cases, DAC recipients lose benefits when they get married. There are a few rare exceptions to this rule. For example, if one DAC marries another DAC, they may be able to continue receiving benefits. The SSA makes these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

How much are DAC benefits?

The payment amount for disabled adult child benefits is based on the parent’s primary insurance amount or PIA. A disabled adult child can receive up to 50% of their parent’s benefit.

In addition to financial support, DAC can receive health insurance coverage, rehabilitation services, and job training from the Social Security Administration. DAC benefits continue as long as the DAC remains disabled.

See what you qualify for

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Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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